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Pappas Makeover is Complete, Restaurant Re-Opened to Rave Reviews

After a makeover by Food Network reality show, Pappas Restaurant reopens to a huge crowd of Benicia supporters including Mario (Giuliani) who had a little lamb at the newly renovated eatery.

restaurant has been struggling, but thanks to a letter to The Food Network, the reality show Restaurant: Impossible came to the rescue.

Lead by Chef Robert Irvine, the show’s crew plan, the interior and the menu in just 48 hours with a budget of $10,000. Curious spectators have watched the workshop tent, trucks and equipment planted in the restaurant parking lot for the past two days.  

Benicians were invited to make reservations for the grand re-opening on Wednesday night.  Those who took this advice were seated shortly after the restaurant re-opened.  Those who didn’t plan ahead stood in line.

When patrons began to arrive at 6:30 p.m., the sound of power tools could be heard and tools and gear still littered the entrance. It was obvious that the restaurant would not open at 7 p.m. as planned. More than two hundred people waited patiently outside for two and a half hours.

Among them were Charlie Clement and Flory Nye-Clement who have been patrons of Pappas for years. “I am hoping for a successful improvement to the restaurant’s appearance and atmosphere,” expressed Nye-Clement, who’s niece works for the show. The two were sworn to secrecy about the show coming to Benicia. 

“I think it’s great for them,” said longtime Benician Pat Moriera. “They are delightful folks. I am hoping this really gives them a boost up.”

Included in the crowd were city officials- Economic Development Manager , , City Attorney Heather McLaughlin, and . 

“I’d like to see an updated restaurant and a change in the menu,” said Hughes. “I think there are too many things on the menu.”

“I hope they keep the Patty Melt,” added Kelly Hughes. 

“I hope it invigorates the business, attracts new patrons and shows what we can do in Benicia,” said Mayor Patterson. “It’s a very creative approach.”

Sue Fisher Jones, Public Affairs manager of , supplied Valero employees for the show’s before scene. “They have great breakfast’s”, said Fisher Jones. “I am hoping for some beautification inside, maybe advice on marketing the restaurant and fine-tuning of the menu. When I first moved here, I thought it was a Greek restaurant but the menu had Italian, Greek and American, so there was some confusion.” AJ Jones also of Valero, said, “My guys used to come here on Fridays for fish and chips.”

The self-named Benicia Bag Ladies have dinner in Pappas bar every other week. The group favors moussaka and the Greek platter and has hopes for more Greek dishes.

By 8 p.m., the crew cleared the scene so owner Mike Anastasios and his sons Nicholas and Andreas could be interviewed. With much anticipation, the three were ushered inside and given a tour. 

It wasn’t until after 9 p.m. when patrons were let inside, in order of reservation. At 10:30 p.m., several dozen people were still waiting for tables. Once inside, the new decor, the simplified Greek menu and a party atmosphere delighted patrons. Additional kitchen help was recruited for the opening.  

Fans of the TV show, who hoped to hear Chef Robert yelling at the crew in the kitchen, were not disappointed. 

Reviews of the food were all positive. Due to some confusion with the orders, Giuliani enjoyed multiple lamb entrees. “My dinners were outstanding.” 

“I think Mario had the best,” said McLaughlin who shamelessly walked around with a fork sampling everyone else’s meal. “The osso bucco was fabulous.” 

“I will come back,” said Schwartzman. “It was all good. They did a great job on the makeover.” 

“I think the community support is awesome,” said bartender Kathy Falk, who has worked at Pappas for two years. 

The final guests were seated just before midnight and said it was definately worth the wait. 

Due to restrictions by the show’s producers, we are not able to share details about the makeover so Benicians will just have to check it out for themselves. Chef Robert focused on the dinner menu but Pappas will resume serving breakfast and lunch on Saturday. 

The Pappas episode of Restaurant: Impossible is due to air on the Food Network in April.

Rigel January 26, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Our families have been to Pappas many many times for Breakfast and Greek's night. We did not attend the grand re-opening because we decided that we should let all the people who NEVER or HARDLY ever go there have their turn. So now that you all know where Pappas is and what a great foods and services they offer. I hope that people continue to support this great local restaurant not just show up last night just to get on the television show.
Joel McMinn January 26, 2012 at 05:55 PM
I visited for breakfast last week .. just to dial-in the Before/After picture. A hearty breakfast have to say. Looking forward to dinner tonight!
JB Davis (Editor) January 26, 2012 at 07:11 PM
Love the picture we got of the City Attorney. She was having a ball last night.
Jill Axline Roth January 26, 2012 at 07:21 PM
Sons Nicholas and Andreas; not Michel and Andreas. It was an amazing nite.
Cheryl T. January 26, 2012 at 09:06 PM
We watched the hustle bustle as crews worked over Pappas, fun! I'm floored at comments to not change the menu. It the menu worked Pappas would not had been nearly belly up. The folks working there are as sweet as pie, and living just 'up the hill' it was our fast food go to on busy nights, but the restaurant was a mutt - lacking identity and with a haphazard approach in the kitchen. The makeover sounds like it did great things. Now Pappas needs to sustain it. For that matter most Benicia restaurants need to wake up. If folks want ho hum fare Denny's, I-Hop and Black Bear Diner are a stones throw away in V-Town. Well prepared food in a pleasant atmosphere will tend to keep Benicia dollars in town. Keep an eye on the show date and time JB - We'll be watching
Janet Olsen January 26, 2012 at 10:46 PM
I'm so excited to hear this! We love Pappas! I'm sure the owner really appreciates it too. He's had a tough couple of years. The decor was very dated, but we kept going back for the food. My favorite is the "greek shimp scampi". Hopefully that is still on the menu. Can't wait to go there, it's been a while!
Judi Morales Gibson January 27, 2012 at 07:36 AM
Thanks Jill, I corrected the story.
Karl Voigt January 27, 2012 at 08:08 PM
Gee Wizz, here we have a happy story that people can all get behind and you use it as an opportunity to diss. the comments of loyal long term customers who have the temerity to say they'd like their favorite menu items retained. Then you go on to say,"most Benicia restaurants need to wake up." Finally you go on to compare these "most Benicia restaurants" to the "ho-hum fare", at chain restaurants in "V-Town". Why pick on poor old V-Town? That's just being a bully. Why pick on most Benicia Restaurants ? Please don't plead constructive criticism. It just doesn't come across like that. I think at best these comments are mean spirited and unnecessarily negative. At worse they are effete, insensitive and elitist. I would suggest that a lot of restaurants like Papa's are having difficulty NOT because they serve "ho-hum fare" but because we all (or at least a majority of us) find ourselves in difficult economic times. Good Luck to Papa's and ALL of the GOOD restaurants in Benicia.
Elaine Hughes January 28, 2012 at 06:11 PM
I'm ery pleased a local restaurant was on Restaurant Impossible - one of my favorite t.v. shows. We liked Pappas before and now can't wait to return and see the changes. Very cool!
Betsy McGraw Romine January 30, 2012 at 10:43 PM
We were just saying that very thing!
Betsy McGraw Romine January 30, 2012 at 10:44 PM
The best dang Gyro anywhere! And we LOVE David. Congratulations and see you soon!
Jill Axline Roth January 31, 2012 at 05:14 PM
Pappas re-opened today (Tues. Jan. 31) for breakfast, lunch and their new delicious dinner. The staff needed a little more time to recoup, regroup and reorganize and they appreciate your patience. Bon Appetit.
lori anastasios February 15, 2012 at 08:13 AM
I love your comment and it is the real truth. We had to stay with what Robert said to make things work. That is what he does and that is what he knows. Thanks for the KUDOS re the staff. We try to please everyone. I love the Benicia people that have supported our family.. Thanks again.. Lori Anastasios
lori anastasios February 15, 2012 at 08:18 AM
Thanks Jill for your compassion and patience. Pappas is re-vamping their menu accordingly and want to have any input from the guests to help make our place, their place ...a great place to go..
fran July 19, 2012 at 02:29 AM
Any idea where they got the fabric for the booths?

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